These days, apparently, British pop-soul sirens are a dime a dozen. Why, all you have to do is go to any smoke-filled pub in Nottingham, peer under the table, and you'll find the next Joss Stone, Lily Allen, or Amy Crackhouse. Seriously, though, Alice Russell had me at "Crazy." Her stripped-down take on Gnarls Barkley's ubiquitous megahit brought new life to a very good, but overplayed song. Russell's version added another context to the original, suggesting it's become a standard of sorts, while her gutsy vocal performance delivered just enough lunacy without dissolving into parody. Russell's Pot of Gold album, on which "Crazy" can be found, has been soaking up critical acclaim like a sponge from publications on both sides of the Atlantic, and she'll land at Yoshi's SF location next Tuesday and Wednesday (the 24th and 25th) for her SF debut.
Russell, it must be noted, is signed to SF-based indie Six Degrees, the world music specialists who know a thing about discovering female singing sensations, having previously released Bebel Gilberto's classic nu-Brazil album Tanto Tempo. Russell may not exactly be a world music artist--her sound is more in the retro-soul vein--but she's a find nevertheless, and it's nice to have a local angle connecting her world-class talent to our world-class city. See her now before she blows up, and you'll have bragging rights over the bandwagon-jumpers which will surely follow in her wake.